There were several attempts to establish a county library back in the late 1890’s.

In January of 1904 The Gainesville News published an article stating, “Postmaster

Farrow is in correspondence with a wealthy northern gentleman about a Free Public

Library for our city. With our present population of nearly ten thousand people, with

three large cotton factories and their thousands of employees, and electric street car line

of about seven miles of track in operation, our Brenau College with its three hundred

young ladies, and the rapid growth of our city in every point of view, there could be no

young city in our broad land offering a prettier field for such a gift from a Christian

philanthropist.” Unfortunately none of these attempts of providing a public library were


Prior to 1933, the ladies of Grace Episcopal Church started a small community

library in the basement of their church. Mrs. J. H. Downey enlisted the women of the

church to volunteer in the afternoons so that the church would be open on a regular basis.

It was not unusual for a person returning a library book to make a donation of an

additional book to the library collection.

The tornado of 1936 destroyed the Grace Episcopal Church along with library.

Many books were left exposed to the elements, but some were salvaged by the ladies of

the church. Because of this loss to the community, Hall County residents started the

groundwork for a public library in Hall County, Georgia.

The first meeting of the Hall County Library Board was held in 1937. Interested

citizens named May 21, 1937 as Library Day and planned a book and money shower. In

March of 1938, the Hall County Library System officially moved into the basement of

the courthouse. Ethel Roark of Clermont was the first librarian.

During the early 1940’s, under the care of Mary Pursell, the first professionally

trained librarian for the system, several depository libraries were established throughout

the county. One of these libraries was in Murrayville at a combination grocery store and

post office; another was in the town hall of Lula; another was in Clermont; and another

was in a beauty shop in Flowery Branch. In the late 1940’s a branch library was

established in one of the classrooms of Northwestern School, a private school in

Gainesville for black students. The library in Northwestern School soon moved into a

building across the street from Fair Street School.

The first Hall County bookmobile was delivered in early February of 1950. The

bookmobile was originally stocked with some 1,000 to 1,200 books. The bookmobile

proved popular. In the first year of its operation the library circulation increased by more

than 20,000 books, 14,505 of which were loaned from the bookmobile.

The quest for better facilities and a larger budget began in 1956 with a bond issue

for the construction of a new library building. The vote ended in a tie, and the

judge ruled against the bond. In April of 1958, another bond issue was voted down. This

particular bond would have added a library wing to the existing courthouse. According

to an article in The Daily Times, the patrons of Hall County did not take the defeat well,

displaying a proclamation and a funeral wreath on the library doors. The

proclamation said, “… We declare a period of mourning for, 1. Lack of support, and 2.

Lack of public interest.”

Hall and Lumpkin counties combined their efforts in 1953 to form the Chestatee

Regional Library. The library was named after the Chestatee River that connects the

counties. Chestatee is a Cherokee word meaning “fire light place.”

It was not until 1967 that Hall County decided to build the current library at the

corner of Maple, Academy, and Main streets. The building site was the original resting

place for the family of Minor Winn Brown. The Brown Cemetery was moved to the Alta

Vista Cemetery on April 24, 1929. The Wheeler Hotel was built over the spot and later

demolished for the construction of the Chestatee Regional Library Building.

The Chestatee Regional Library Headquarters was dedicated on February 8, 1970.

In 1975, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was added to the library

system. Over the years the library branches have replaced library depositories.

In 1981 a branch was opened in Clermont; in 1991 the Blackshear Place Library was

constructed in Oakwood, and in 1994, new library branches were constructed in

Murrayville and the Rabbittown community.

In 1993, the Dawson County Library Board voted to withdraw from the Lake

Lanier Regional Library System and join the Chestatee Regional Library System.

In the summer of 1997, with the large population growth, the Hall County Library Board

voted to withdraw from the Chestattee Regional Library System. Now serving a

population over 120,000, the Hall County Library System in 2008 built the Spout

Springs Branch Library in Flowery Branch.